Eventually I adopted a you-can't-live-with-it and you-can't-live-without-it attitude. The first part relates to the computer-related challenges at home that I must deal with without a tech support department; the latter part was when I discovered a website that I could live without but am sure glad that I didn't.
My nomination for the Most Wow! Factor this year is at http://tinyurl.com/goshawkflies. It's from BBC2's "Animal's Guide to Britain" program, episode 3.
Hint: It involves a shape-shifting performance by a goshawk.
And thanks to a reader who emailed me the Web address.
A walk in the park: Deception Pass State Park is participating in the First Day Hike on Jan. 1. The guided tours are a part of the America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative.
This is the first year all 50 state park systems have offered First Day Hikes on New Year's Day. Here are the three closest parks:
Whidbey Island's Deception Pass event is a 1½-mile hike that starts at 11 a.m. at the Bowman Bay parking area. The trail is moderate, and children must be 5 years or older to participate.
Lake Sylvia State Park is near Montesano. A moderately easy 2-mile hike begins at 1:30 p.m. at the beach kitchen shelter. Children must be at least 5 years old.
Squilchuck is in the Wenatchee area. Snowshoes will be provided for the easy 2-miler that begins at 10 a.m. (children ages 6 and up).
Eagle time: The Skagit River area has one of the largest wintering populations of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. In this state, there's no better place to see them in large numbers than the higher reaches of the Skagit.
Eagle-spotting with volunteers from the Eagle Watchers program is a must-do winter activity. The volunteers can be found at viewing stations with off-highway parking along Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway).
Binoculars and spotting scopes are provided for closer looks at the eagles in the trees and feeding on salmon carcasses along the river's gravel bars. Volunteers will staff stations Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today through Jan. 29 except for Christmas weekend.
The sites are located at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, Rockport; Sutter Creek Rest area, Milepost 100; and Marblemount Fish Hatchery. Look for the yellow signs.
View a map showing the viewing sites and learn more about Skagit River wildlife at http://tinyurl.com/skagitwildlife. Call 360-856-5700 for more information.
Winter rules: Just when you think you know the guidelines. … With changes to the state Department of Natural Resources and state Parks and Recreation Commission rules, players will have to be more savvy about what permit or pass allows you to park where.
The short version:
Visitors with a current $40 seasonal Sno-Park permit do not have to buy a Discover Pass to park in a designated Sno-Park through March 31. A one-day permit is $20, although some nonmotorized Sno-Parks require a Special Groomed Trail sticker for an additional $40.
For more information, go to http://tinyurl.com/nonmotorized.
DNR manages several trailheads that are no longer part of the Sno-Park system. For those areas, an annual or day-use Discover Pass is needed: Ahtanum Winter Recreation Areas, Yakima County; Lily Lake, Chelan County; and Rattlesnake area in Yakima County.
An annual Discover Pass costs $30 and a day-use pass is $10. If you buy it a retail store, there will be a transaction fee.
In addition, if you buy a one-day Sno-Park permit, you'll also need an annual or one-day Discover Pass to visit the following locations: Crystal, Hyak and Lake Easton sno-parks; Lake Easton, Fields Spring and Mount Spokane state parks; and the Mount Tahoma Trail System (managed by DNR).
I bet you still have questions. For clarity, go to www.discoverpass.wa.gov or for Sno-Park information, go to www.parks.wa.gov/winter.
Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.
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